Daily Archives: Jul 27, 2011

Prague streetIt takes a brave person to try and mess with the Czech institution that is stavební spoření: a special state-subsidised savings account aimed at helping renters and homeowners buy or make improvements to their homes.

The state has long turned a blind eye to the fact that many account holders spend the cash on a new car or on holidays. But now the Czech treasury, which is trying to bring down its budget deficit, has decided enough is enough. 

By Nicholas Watson in Prague

The advertising markets in the CEE might be in the doldrums, but that has not stopped Central European Media Enterprises (CME) from ekking out a small profit in the second quarter.

The Nasdaq-listed broadcaster, which is partly owned by Time Warner, on Wednesday reported attributable net income of $968,000, compared with a net loss of $21.1m in the first quarter. 

China Inc’s rumbling appetite for foreign companies can be heard across the globe. This is not new. But what is new are stats from number-crunchers Dealogic revealing that the number of Chinese outbound mergers and acquisitions activity is at an all-time high. This year to date no fewer than 217 cross border deals have been struck by Chinese companies.

But while more hands are being shaken, less money is being exchanged. 

The lending environment in the United Arab Emirates has improved markedly since the beginning of the year, as the interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow has been brought down.

The gap between the UAE three-month interbank rate and the US three-month interbank rate has narrowed to about 124 basis points, the smallest since 2008, according to Bloomberg data. That shows liquidity is improving and banks are in a better shape to lend. This is welcome news for borrowers after the UAE suffered a severe credit crunch.

 

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Less than a week after an American blogger sparked a media and internet frenzy with her post about fake Apple stores in Kunming, a small city in southwest China, authorities there have moved to close down two of the copycat shops.

Victory for Apple? Depends on how you look at it. 

beyondbrics on the beachIt’s late July in Patagonia and the skiing season is at its peak – a time for Argentines to take advantage of the magnificent scenery and the school holidays to get down a few runs. Not this year, though.

For six weeks now a volcano in neighbouring Chile has been spewing ash into the Argentine sky, grounding flights and keeping airports closed and skiers, well, piste off. 

small shop in ChinaChina’s government has long refuted rumours about a bankruptcy wave among small and medium sized enterprises triggered by a lack of access to bank loans.

But a new survey published by Alibaba Group, the e-commerce company, and Peking University on Wednesday shows that all is not well with small businesses, which after all account for 65 per cent of the country’s GDP and provide 80 per cent of its jobs. 

South Korea’s slowing export growth is expected to heap further pressure on policymakers, who have in recent months allowed the won to appreciate against the dollar to fight inflation.

The Korean won has gained about 7 per cent against the dollar so far this year, the most among Asian currencies, as the government refrains from intervening in currency markets, hoping the higher won will help tame inflation by reducing import costs. But can it continue to stand on the sidelines for long? 

Sun Art leaps on Hong Kong debut

Foreign investment in Brazil market dives 70%

South Korea’s economy grows at slower pace

India slips to 14th spot in global FDI inflows

Nissan-Dongfeng to invest $7.8bn 

Beyondbric’s tips on the top reads for Wednesday’s lunch: how to understand India’s interest rates hike, the consequences of the bullet train crash and why the law of physics does not apply to Russian bureaucrats. 

South Korean activistsattend a rally near the Japanese embassy in Seoul on July 22, 2011. South Korea’s latest battle with Japan carries an important lesson about Korean companies.

It all started last month when Korean Air took a sparkling new A380 on a test flight over a disputed island called Dokdo, which Japan calls Takeshima. Since then, Tokyo has responded angrily and banned diplomats from flying on Korea’s national carrier. Political temperatures have risen further and now Korea is blocking a visit by some Japanese lawmakers. 

Stock traders negotiate in the iBovespa future index pit during the morning session at the Mercantile and Futures Exchange (BM&F) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 7, 2009.Its stock index is down almost 14 per cent this year. Bank share prices have lost 10-20 per cent, the construction sector is in an even worse state, and the shares of some industrial companies have dropped as much as 40 per cent.

No, we’re not talking about Greece or Spain. This is Brazil. 

* Foreign investment in Brazil market dives 70%

* South Korea’s economy grows at slower pace

* India slips to 14th spot in global FDI inflows

* N Korean nuclear envoy arrives in New York

* Nissan-Dongfeng to invest $7.8bn 

beyondbrics on the beachSome of Asia’s urban hotels are renowned for their pools with a view. The Intercontinental in Kowloon offers stunning vistas of the jewel box that is Hong Kong’s office district across the harbour. The Fullerton offers an eyeful of Singapore’s cityscape.

The elegant 50m pool at the Aman in New Delhi, by contrast, keeps the hustle and bustle of India’s capital city deliberately out of sight with artfully created jaalis, or screens, inspired by Mughal palace architecture. 

Legend goes that oil and gas used to bubble up to the surface around the green river hamlets of the western territory of what today is Paraguay. The Guaraní indigenous tribes used it for curative purposes, as well as to light their fires and perform rituals. Years later, the Paraguayans are still looking for that treasure trove.

But now they seem to have a new – and quite inconspicuous – ally to help them with the search: Russia’s Gazprom. The energy giant has expressed interest in carrying out exploration work in Paraguay and, if reserves are found, forming a joint venture with the state run-energy company, Petropar.